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Women's Health

Foreign-Born Women More Likely to Die From Heart Disease Than American Women

Although United States residents born in other countries have a lower death rate from all causes than native-born residents, women who moved here from other countries actually have a higher risk of dying from heart disease and stroke, according to a new study.

Comparison Studies

Dr. Peter Alexander Muennig of the New School University in New York , lead author of the study, said the results are consistent with previous research showing that people who move to this country are generally healthier than those born here.

But among foreign-born women, there were 162 deaths per 100,000 due to congestive heart disease compared with 122 per 100,000 among women born in the U.S., the study found. The death rate among stroke victims was 58 per 100,000 foreign-born women compared to 49 per 100,000 native-born women, according to the findings.

Deaths from hypertension and hypertensive heart disease also were higher among foreign-born women compared to those who are native-born, suggesting that higher rates of hypertension may be partly responsible for the higher rates of heart disease deaths, Muennig said.

The researchers found that death rates from other causes, such as cancer and diabetes, were lower among the foreign-born men and women who now reside in the U.S. than among native-born residents. The study suggests that foreign-born women may have higher rates of heart disease due to factors such as lower rates of hormone replacement therapy use, the research team added.


However, the study said the findings could be due to a shift in the demographic mix of new U.S. immigrants. For example, people from India and Pakistan accounted for a larger proportion of new U.S. residents in the late 1990s compared to the early part of that decade; these immigrants generally have more fat in their diets than immigrants from countries such as China and Korea, the survey reported.

"The time has come to include the newest Americans in the public health agenda so that their health needs can be better understood and better met," Muennig noted.

Address: Dr. Peter Alexander Muennig, New School University, 66 W. 12th St., New York, NY 10011; (212) 229-5600,

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